In a world filled with injustices, social and political unrest and division, self-absorbed and self-serving opinions, what does Abba Father want us to do? Living in South Africa where these sorts of protest actions are a common theme, and more than often lead to violence, do we protest and fight back against the unrest or do we pray for God’s intervention? Maybe we ought to do both.
Protest and Pray
There’s no question that our world, our country, is full of brokenness, pain, and injustice. Some Christians might tell you that we need to pray more, that prayer is our best weapon against evil in the world, and that causing disruption by protesting isn’t a good witness. Some Christians might tell you that we need to be out in the streets, speaking truth to power, calling for evil to be made accountable, and that “just praying” is the “easy” way out.
But in God’s word, all over scripture in fact, we see that living as a faithful Christian in a broken world is more complicated than an “either/or” situation. Often, God is calling us to a multifaceted response to the evil in our world—responses that include prayer, witnessing, and protesting, among many other things.
In these passages we see that it is right and good for us to ask God to be our defender, to ask God to correct injustice (Psalm 43). And we also see that God wants us to speak up for the oppressed, to spend our lives on behalf of the hurting (Proverbs and Isaiah). We see that God called Isaiah to “shout it out” when God’s people were exploiting and oppressing others.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
It’s far too simplistic to say there is only one right response to evil and brokenness in our world. When we pray that God’s kingdom would “come on earth as it is in heaven,” we need to remember that God has called us to also participate in bringing that vision to life.
Do your prayers reflect a call for God to bring justice? Do you also speak up against injustice outwardly in your life? Do you tend to gravitate towards one or the other, and why do you think that happens?
Isaiah calls us to “spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry.” Is your life oriented around spending your time, energy, effort, and resources more on yourself than on the people God has put before you to serve?
What is your first step to take in re-orienting your life around serving others?
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